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The British Clavichord Society Newsletter

John Collins

No. 69, October 2017

George Berg Twelve Sonatinas Op. 3
edited by Michael Talbot in two volumes Edition HH 450.SOL (op. 3, Nos. 16) and 451.SOL (Op. 3, Nos. 712). Price 9.95 each, available from www.editionhh.co.uk

George Berg (173075) was born in London to a German father and an English mother, and published some seven sets of keyboard music(1) and eight of songs in addition to numerous compositions in other genres. His three sets of Sonatinas for harpsichord were published as his Opp. 3, 4 and 6 between 1759 and 1762, and each contain twelve Sonatinas, numbered consecutively from I to XXXVI.

Michael Talbot has edited the first set for Edition HH in two volumes. Each of these pieces is in two movements in the same key, the first being either an Allegro (Nos. 2, 48, 11 and 12) or Andante (Nos. 1, 9 and 10), all in common time. No. 3 is a Siciliano in 12/8. The second movement is either a Minuet (Nos. 1, 2, 46, 8, 10 and 12), a Jigg (Nos. 3, 7, 9) or an Aria (No. 11). In No. 10 there is a second Minuet in the tonic minor. Minor keys are used only in Nos. 3 and 8; the first movement of the latter features passages for crossed hands. Extended left-hand arpeggios feature in two bars in the opening movement of No. 11. The Minuets are written in a broad range of tempi from Allegro to Larghetto. The Jiggs are all in 12/8, with equal quavers.

These pieces are quite short, frequently with a wide rhythmic variety in the same movement; only the first movement of No. 10 contains extensive use of demisemiquavers, and dynamic indications of p and f occur occasionally in this movment. The texture is almost uniformly in two parts. The layout has been carefully planned so that no page-turns in the middle of a movement are required. The printing is clear, and Michael Talbot has provided a brief introduction and some suggestions for performance of the ornaments, although he omits the most common realization of the mordent (or beat), i.e. a four-note ornament commencing on the lower note, this being common well into the nineteenth century. There is a critical commentary.

The pieces are attractive and inventive, and generally well within the reach of an amateur player indeed, the type of purchaser for whom they were almost certainly written. It is much to be hoped that Michael Talbot will edit the other two sets, which will provide much-needed additions to the repertoire for the discerning amateur. Perhaps these could be issued in one volume for each set, as these two volumes each contain only fifteen pages of music, making them comparatively speaking, rather expensive.

(1) The two sets of Organ Voluntaries Opp.2 and 8 have been published by Fitzjohn Music (www.impulse-music.co.uk/Fitzjohnmusic).

We are grateful to John Collins for permission to reproduce this review.
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